Handout: Imperatives

1. Formal Command

This is the imperative that we learned in Chapter One, the Sie-command. When you address one OR several people in a formal manner, you must use this form. The verb takes the -en ending of the Sie form, and the pronoun Sie is always placed immediately after the verb, exactly as in an interrogative sentence.

Nehmen Sie das Buch!Take the book!
Kaufen Sie es!Buy it!

2. Familiar Command - Singular

When you are on a du basis with someone, the familiar singular command is used. This command is formed by removing the -st ending from the present tense of the du form, which leaves just the basic stem. The personal pronoun is not used -- just the verb itself.


Note: verbs that end in a -t or -d, or a consonant cluster like -fn, retain the additional -e- that was added to facilitate pronunciation:


You may also see an -e ending on other verbs in the command form, especially in conversational German, but it’s optional and technically should only be added to verbs with a -t, -d or consonant cluster ending.

Note on stem-changing verbs: verbs that have a vowel change from e > i or e > ie retain this change in the familiar singular command.


However, verbs whose stem vowel changes from a > ä do not retain this change in the imperative.


3. Familiar Command - Plural

When you address several persons with whom you are on a du basis, the familiar plural command is used. This command has exactly the same form as the ihr conjugation, with the personal pronoun dropped.


This is the easiest of the command forms, since it is exactly the same as the conjugated ihr-form, just without the pronoun!

4. Mild Commands

When expressing the form “let us” (let’s eat!) the first person plural (wir) with an inverted word order is used.

Gehen wir jetzt!Let’s go now!

5. Command forms of SEIN

The command forms of sein are slightly irregular: the Sie and wir forms are different than you would expect. The command forms for “be!” are:

Seien Sie!Sei!Seid!Seien wir!

Note on separable-prefix verbs: if there is a separable prefix attached to the verb, it functions in the normal manner and appears after the command form. This holds true for all command forms (Sie, ihr, du, wir):

Steh auf!Stand up!
Kommen Sie bitte mit!Come along, please!

A. Umschreiben. Rewrite the following sentences in the familiar singular and the familiar plural command forms.

1.Nehmen Sie das Brot mit!
2.du: __________________________________________ihr: __________________________________________
3.Haben Sie keine Angst!
4.du: __________________________________________ihr: __________________________________________
5.Fahren Sie bitte schnell!
6.du: __________________________________________ihr: __________________________________________
7.Vergessen Sie es nicht!
8.du: __________________________________________ihr: __________________________________________
9.Seien Sie vorsichtig!
10.du: __________________________________________ihr: __________________________________________
11.Sprechen Sie laut!
12.du: __________________________________________ihr: __________________________________________

B. Befehle. Tell the following people what they should do.

BEISPIEL:  Sagen Sie zu Fritz, dass er das Auto kaufen soll!       -   Fritz, kauf das Auto!                           

1.Sagen Sie zu Paul, dass er das Brot essen soll._______________________________________
2.Sagen Sie zu Frau Braun, dass sie nicht laufen soll._______________________________________
3.Sagen Sie zu Paul und Hans, dass sie brav sein sollen._______________________________________
4.Sagen Sie zu Luise, dass sie dich anrufen soll._______________________________________
5.Sagen Sie zu Professor Schmidt, dass er anfangen soll._______________________________________
6.Sagen Sie zu Paul und Fritz, dass sie den Wein mitbringen sollen._______________________________________

C. Heikle Situationen. Below are three situations in which you might use imperatives to tell people to do things. Using a few of the vocabulary phrases below, write what you would say to the people in the following situations.

aufräumen = to clean upaufwachen / aufstehen = to get up
den Bus nehmen = to take the busdie Musik leise stellen = to turn down the music
ein Taxi bestellen = to call for a taxiKopfhörer benutzen = to use headphones
(nicht) fahren = to (not) driveruhig / still sein = to be quiet
umziehen = to move (to a different house)die Wäsche waschen = to do laundry
zur Klasse gehen = to go to class(nicht) faulenzen / (nicht) faul sein = to (not) be lazy

1.Es ist elf Uhr morgens, und dein Freund schläft noch (=still). Er hat eine Klasse um 12.30. Sein Zimmer ist auch sehr unordentlich, und er hat keine saubere (=clean) Kleidung. Was sagst du zu ihm?

2.Dein Nachbar, Herr Meyer, spielt jeden Abend laute Musik, und du kannst nicht schlafen. Was sagst du zu ihm?

3.Deine Freunde trinken am Wochenende viel Bier, und sie wollen dann mit dem Auto nach Hause fahren. Was sagst du zu ihnen?